Cipher Films, DJ Films, TMC, UK Film Council, Pathe, Limelight


NOEL CLARKE SAYS: 'Technically I'm a statistic - council estate, single parent family. I should be in jail or dead or whatever, but I'm not, I'm making films. Why is it the guy that grew up with me is in jail' It's the choices you make. You can't choose the cards you're dealt but you can choose how you play them.'

THE LOWDOWN: Actor-screenwriter Clarke makes his feature-length directing debut with this sequel to 2005's Kidulthood. Set six years after Kidulthood, the film follows the lead character, played by Clarke, on the day he is released from prison. A cast of young talents includes Scarlett Alice Johnson from UK soap EastEnders.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Adulthood exceeded expectations at the UK box-office, earning more than $4.4m (£3m) on its theatrical release. The success helped to establish Clarke as one of the great hopes for commercial British film-making aimed at a young market. The film has an outside chance at a Korda nomination.

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Ecosse Films, Miramax Films, UK Film Council, HanWay Films, BBC Films, 2 Entertain, Screen Yorkshire

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

JULIAN JARROLD SAYS: 'Everyone has this memory of the novel and TV series as a beautiful view of the decline of the aristocracy. But when I read our script, I realised it's about how religion affects this complex, dysfunctional family. There's a clash between an atheistic view and a religious sensibility. It has a contemporary resonance.'

THE LOWDOWN: A sumptuous new version of the Evelyn Waugh novel. Matthew Goode is Charles Ryder, the bright, middle-class boy infatuated with an aristocratic family and their ancestral home. Ben Whishaw is Sebastian, the dissolute son who falls in love with him even as it becomes clear Charles has his heart set on Sebastian's sister Julia (Hayley Atwell). Emma Thompson is cast against type as the chilling Catholic matriarch who rules and ruins their lives.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' A box-office disappointment in the UK where it grossed $2m (£1.4m), its best chance may lie in a nomination for Bafta favourite Thompson, a six-time nominee across film and television categories.

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The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas


Heyday Films, Miramax Films, BBC Films

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

MARK HERMAN SAYS: 'When researching the adaptation, I learned that the camp commandants were sworn to secrecy under threat of certain death to keep their activities top secret. They were forbidden to tell anybody, including their own families, what their 'work' entailed. This was helpful when writing the script, particularly to explain why the commandant hadn't told his wife about the extermination programme - she thinks it is a labour camp and only accidentally discovers the truth.'

THE LOWDOWN: A sombre adaptation of the bestselling John Boyne novel telling of an eight year old whose father is appointed as a commandant at Auschwitz. His friendship with a young Jewish boy has deadly consequences. The film does not soften the novel's powerful, haunting conclusion.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Writer-director Mark Herman has previous Korda and Bafta screenwriting nominations for Brassed Off (1996) and Little Voice (1998). The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas has struck a nerve with critics and audiences in the UK, earning in excess of $5.8m (£4m). Bafta members' fondness for war stories and literary adaptations could make this a dark horse.

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The Duchess


Qwerty Films, Magnolia Mae films, BIM Distribuzione, Pathe, Renn Production, BBC Films, Paramount Vantage


SAUL DIBB SAYS: 'Coming from documentaries and Bullet Boy, I was interested in making this unreal world as real as possible and tried to strip away all those layers that could distance the viewer from the characters' lives - be it the language, the settings, the costumes or the make-up - and just try to portray the real people in these complex relationships.'

THE LOWDOWN: Bullet Boy director Dibb brings a fresh eye to the costume drama with a spirited true-life story set in the 18th century and based on the bestselling historical novel by Amanda Foreman. Keira Knightley stars as Georgiana, the naive youngster who finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage to an older man. Similarities to the marriage of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles are purely intentional as Georgiana is a distant ancestor of Diana Spencer.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' The Duchess has been one of the UK success stories of 2008 earning more than $8.8m (£6m) at the UK box-office and $13m in the US. Ralph Fiennes has received admiring reviews for his well-rounded characterisation as the Duke of Devonshire and he is something of a Bafta favourite with four prior nominations. A best supporting actor nomination seems likely alongside potent craft and Korda potential.

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Edge Of Love


Capitol Films, BBC Films, the Wales Creative IP Fund, Prescience Film Partners 2, Sarah Radclyffe Productions, Rainy Day Films


JOHN MAYBURY SAYS: '... I don't think it's really a film about Dylan Thomas, it's about the women and their relationships - the close bond that forms between them is harmed and damaged almost by their commitment to the men in their lives.'

THE LOWDOWN: Maybury directs a polished, highly stylised account of the ties that bound Welsh poet Dylan Thomas to both his wife Caitlin and his childhood sweetheart Vera. The starry cast is headed by Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, with Matthew Rhys as Thomas and Cillian Murphy as the British soldier who adores Vera. The screenplay is by Knightley's mother, the playwright Sharman Macdonald.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' The film failed to win universal critical support and struggled to earn $2.2m (£1.5m) at the UK box-office, which will have damaged its profile. Maybury has no history of Bafta nominations and although Knightley was a best actress nominee for Atonement, Miller has grabbed the attention here and already has a Bifa best supporting actress nomination to her credit. Lionsgate's campaign has included Q&A screenings with Maybury and Sienna Miller.

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Dean Spanley


General Film Corporation, Atlantic Film Productions, Aramid Capital Partners, the NZ Film Production Fund, the NZ Film Commission, Lipsync Productions, Screen East

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Icon Film Distribution.

TOA FRASER SAYS: 'I see Dean Spanley as a love letter to my Englishness. This project has given me the chance to reconnect with my English roots.'

THE LOWDOWN: Screenwriter Alan Sharp has provided a charming adaptation of the novel by Lord Dunsany set in Edwardian England. Jeremy Northam is a devoted son at the mercy of his curmudgeonly father, Peter O'Toole. Sam Neill is the clergyman, Dean Spanley, who discovers he has vivid memories of a past life as a beloved spaniel. His memories help bridge the gap between father and son.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Dean Spanley is well-acted and beautifully crafted but may just prove too whimsical for Bafta success, especially in the face of stronger competition from titles that may be seen as more obviously British than this UK-New Zealand co-production. Icon has been actively campaigning for the film and O'Toole could be a supporting actor contender. He won his first Bafta for Lawrence Of Arabia in 1962, but despite three further nominations has never won again.

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Easy Virtue


Fragile Films, Joe Abrams Productions, Prescience Production Partnerships, Ealing Studios, Endgame Entertainment, Odyssey Entertainment, BBC Films


STEPHAN ELLIOTT SAYS: '... We wanted to make a modern film for modern audiences so we tried to give it a really contemporary voice, then the actors came along and immediately went into Coward mode. And I had to ask them to talk to me as they would normally, so we did eventually find a common voice.'

THE LOWDOWN: Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert's Elliot returns to the director's chair after a lengthy absence. He serves up a jaunty adaptation of a Noel Coward play previously filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as a silent feature in 1928. Jessica Biel is a daredevil US racing driver in the roaring '20s who marries naive Englishman Ben Barnes and must now meet his disapproving parents; a frosty Kristin Scott Thomas and a grumpy Colin Firth.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Easy Virtue was warmly received at its Toronto and Rome film festival screenings and has performed reasonably well on its subsequent UK theatrical release. Although Biel emerged well from the reviews, it is Scott Thomas who could attract the most attention from Bafta voters, especially as she is also a best actress contender for I've Loved You So Long. Scott Thomas is a previous Bafta winner for Four Weddings And A Funeral.

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Working Title Films, Imagine Entertainment, Universal Pictures

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures International.

RON HOWARD SAYS: 'The real drama of this event was a dynamic between the two men that very few people understood. It was a battle of wits in which each man was fighting for his professional life and only one could walk away the winner. It came down to the evasive skills of Nixon, versus Frost's ability to get people to talk to him.'

THE LOWDOWN: Howard directs the screen version of Peter Morgan's play, dramatising the 1977 television interviews in which disgraced president Richard Nixon was confronted by journalist David Frost. Seeking to restore his reputation, Nixon merely succeeded in sealing history's judgment of him. Frank Langella repeats his Tony Award-winning performance as Nixon and Michael Sheen adds to his gallery of true-life portrayals as Frost.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Howard is a past nominee for A Beautiful Mind (2001), Sheen was nominated for The Queen (2006) and Morgan's multiple film and television nominations resulted in a screenplay win for The Last King Of Scotland (2006). All of them could figure in this year's nominations. Langella has no previous Bafta nominations but his performance seems the one most likely to succeed.

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How To Lose Friends And Alienate People


Intandem, Film4, UK Film Council, Number 9, Paramount Pictures

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures.

ROBERT B WEIDE SAYS: 'People who know Toby or have read the book, asked, 'How do you make this character sympathetic'' The answer is Simon Pegg. When I got the script, I was vaguely aware of Simon from Spaced. Then I saw Shaun Of The Dead and I knew this was our guy. Now I can't imagine this film without him.'

THE LOWDOWN: US comedy director Weide directs an inoffensive screen version of Toby Young's bestselling memoir recalling his disastrous time at Vanity Fair in New York. All the names have been changed to protect the guilty, which means Simon Pegg stars as odious English hack Sidney Young and Jeff Bridges plays his editor Clayton Harding, a thinly veiled portrait of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. Kirsten Dunst co-stars.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Simon Pegg's appeal at the box office was confirmed by a UK theatrical take for How To Win Friends in excess of $5.1m (£3.5m). However, the critical response was lukewarm and often compared the film unfavourably to the book. Pegg is a Bafta television winner for the comedy series Spaced but this does not seem likely to help the film attract Bafta glory, even in the Korda category, when the competition is so intense and wide-ranging.

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Thin Man Films

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures.

MIKE LEIGH SAYS: 'The conception of the film is mine but as usual I collaborated with the actors. Sally (Hawkins) was in my previous films and I wanted to get her in the centre of this film. I've tapped into something coming very much from her, which is a generous spirit and her sense of humour.'

THE LOWDOWN: Leigh's first feature since the award-winning Vera Drake (2004) presents a portrait of London schoolteacher Poppy, played by Hawkins. Poppy is someone who always looks on the bright side of life and is able to cope with whatever fate delivers, including a chilling Eddie Marsan as driving instructor Scott, a time-bomb of paranoia, loneliness and frustration. She may be the loveliest character to grace the screen this year.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Leigh has a long and distinguished Bafta track record, winning best director for Vera Drake and both original screenplay and the Korda for Secrets & Lies (1996). Happy-Go-Lucky should be a leading contender in several categories. Hawkins has already won the best actress prize at Berlin and nominations from the European Film Academy and the Bifas. Marsan and Alexis Zegerman scooped awards for best supporting actor and best supporting actress at the Bifas.

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Blast! Films, Film4, Northern Ireland Screen, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, the Wales Creative IP Fund


STEVE McQUEEN SAYS: 'People are over being shocked by now as far as images in films are concerned, but this might be able to penetrate people's armour.'

THE LOWDOWN: Turner Prize-winning artist McQueen makes an impressive feature debut, telling the story of Bobby Sands and the IRA hunger strikes at the Maze Prison in Belfast in the early 1980s. A film of remarkable assurance, it features a startling breakthrough performance from Michael Fassbender and a bravura centrepiece in which the moral issues surrounding the hunger strike are addressed in a 20-minute conversation where the camera remains still as the debate rages.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Hunger has been one of the most critically acclaimed British features of the past year. The winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes, it has gone on to win three Bifas, including best debut director and best actor for Fassbender and the European Film Academy's European Discovery Prize. In a crowded, competitive field, it looks like one of the strongest contenders for a Korda nomination and with the committed campaigning of Pathe it could gather enough momentum to score in other categories.

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Focus Features, Film4, Blueprint Pictures, Scion Films

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures International.

MARTIN McDONAGH SAYS: 'I storyboarded it pretty much on my own and then brought it to the DoP and we discussed the visual side, because I didn't want it to be a playwright's film. I didn't want it to be two guys chatting for two-and-a-half hours.'

THE LOWDOWN: Irish playwright McDonagh makes a stunning feature debut with an unruly, politically incorrect gangster comedy. An avuncular Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are the two hitmen who take refuge in the picturesque Belgian town of Bruges after a botched killing. Gleeson's character is beguiled by the architecture, history and romance of the city while Farrell's naive youngster is bored out of his tiny mind as he awaits a day of reckoning. Ralph Fiennes co-stars.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' McDonagh's 2004 short film Six Shooter earned him an Oscar and a Bafta nomination. In Bruges may make many critics' lists as one of the top 10 films of the year and topped the Bifa nominations with recognition in seven categories. Neither Gleeson nor Farrell have any previous Bafta nominations and their performances may be overshadowed by more heavily touted contenders, though a Korda nomination remains a possibility.

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Keylight Entertainment Group, Kudos Productions, Focus Features

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures.

BHARAT NALLURI SAYS: 'Having just gotten engaged, I wanted to explore love and the choices we make in terms of who we end up with... The story may take place in 1939, but these are characters we can all recognise.'

THE LOWDOWN: Nalluri directs a sparkling adaptation of Winifred Watson's 1938 novel. Frances McDormand stars as Ms Guinevere Pettigrew, a dowdy, down-at-heel spinster who is caught up in the glamorous world of West End star Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) during one giddy day of moral dilemmas and high-society adventure. The result is a film with the champagne wit of a PG Wodehouse lark and the elegance of a Fred Astaire musical.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Miss Pettigrew was a sleeper hit in the US, earning more than $12m. The public response in the UK was less enthusiastic. McDormand has three previous Bafta nominations which might help her chances this year and although Adams and Shirley Henderson have no Bafta form they could be considered long shots for a best supporting actress nod. Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy has a better chance of recognition for Slumdog Millionaire.

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Man On Wire


Wall to Wall, Red Box Films, Discovery Films, BBC, UK Film Council

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Icon Film Distribution.

JAMES MARSH SAYS: 'Most people living in New York know about Philippe Petit's walk. It is truly part of the folklore of the city and more poignant now the towers are gone. But I immediately knew the fate of the World Trade Center was nothing to do with our film. Philippe's adventure should stand alone as an amazing true-life fairy tale, set in an era usually remembered as squalid and corrupt.'

THE LOWDOWN Director Marsh returns to his documentary roots with a mesmerising account of Petit's daredevil high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. Home movies, eyewitness accounts and dramatic reconstructions are blended together with a lengthy interview with the irrepressible Petit. Michael Nyman's music is used to great dramatic effect underlining the sweaty, nail-biting tension.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Man On Wire took Sundance by storm earlier this year, winning both the audience and Grand Jury prizes. It has been embraced by audiences and critics around the world and won the Bifa for best British documentary. Marsh was a Bafta television nominee for his documentary Wisconsin Death Trip in 1999, and if Man On Wire is overlooked by Bafta members it will only fuel the pressure for the British Academy to establish a separate award recognising documentaries.

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Of Time And The City


Hurricane Films, Northwest Vision and Media & Digital Departures, the Liverpool Culture Company, BBC Films, the UK Film Council


TERENCE DAVIES says: 'The film's not just about Liverpool, it's about age and mortality... It's just a different way of dealing with all those things which are important to me - the nature of time, the nature of mortality and the transience of life.'

THE LOWDOWN: Eight years after The House Of Mirth, Davies makes a long-awaited return to the director's chair with a documentary saluting his home town of Liverpool. Davies provides the velvety voiced narration and uses archive footage to revisit the key sights and sounds of his youth. He laments the passing of a city in which he now feels an alien but also recognises that not everything about the past deserves to be remembered with uncritical affection.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Of Time And The City was rapturously received at its Cannes debut and has become a festival staple. Despite being regarded as one of the UK's greatest living film-makers, Davies has received little Bafta recognition beyond a Korda nomination for The House Of Mirth. This could be the year to make amends. Of Time And The City received a Bifa nomination for best documentary and if Bafta had a documentary category it would have been a sure thing.

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DreamWorks Pictures, BBC Films, Evamere Entertainment, Neal Street, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Vantage.

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures.

SAM MENDES SAYS: 'I saw in this story the potential to explore a marriage laid out in detail - the hard edges, the vulnerability, the cruelty, the rage and raw emotionality.'

THE LOWDOWN: Mendes directs a long-awaited adaptation of the landmark Richard Yates novel charting the collapse of a suburban marriage and the souring of the American Dream. Leonardo DiCaprio is Frank Wheeler, an ambitious go-getter in 1950s America who settles for a marriage to April, an unfulfilling job in Manhattan and a life in the Connecticut suburbs. Kate Winslet is April, in a film that reunites the star team for the first time since Titanic.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' All the key creative figures in Revolutionary Road have some kind of Bafta track record. Mendes was a nominee for his feature debut American Beauty (1999), DiCaprio was a best actor nominee for The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006) while Winslet has five nominations to her credit and one win for Sense And Sensibility (1995). Reviews of Revolutionary Road have been respectable rather than ecstatic but it has a pedigree that makes it a possible Bafta contender.

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Hammer & Tongs, Celluloid Dreams, Reason Pictures

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Optimum Releasing.

GARTH JENNINGS SAYS: 'From the moment we began writing the script, we knew the casting of the two lead boys was a crucial element. We were looking on a continual basis throughout every draft, every rewrite, every change in script emphasis. We wanted total newcomers, kids who hadn't been trained to be tiny professional actors, kids who were natural, who wouldn't worry about looking not cool in the crying scenes or try being overly funny with the dialogue.'

THE LOWDOWN: Jennings followed 2005's The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by writing and directing a salute to the unlikely friendship between two boys. Set during the summer of 1982, the film tells of Will (Bill Milner) whose upbringing has shielded him from films, television and pop music. School bad-boy Lee (Will Poulter) shows him a VHS copy of First Blood and the two bond during their production of an amateur sequel to the Sylvester Stallone classic.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Son Of Rambow has been a star performer in the UK, opening to positive reviews and grossing in excess of $5.9m (£4m). It has also earned four Bifa nominations including best director for Jennings and newcomer recognition for both Milner and Poulter. A Korda nomination is a possibility. The one factor against it may be that its Sundance triumph in January 2007 could seem long ago and far away.

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Somers Town


Big Arty, Tomboy Films, Mother Vision

UK DISTRIBUTOR: Optimum Releasing.

SHANE MEADOWS SAYS: 'It was the first film I have made in London and I wanted to try and capture both the familiarity and the strangeness of the place. In a funny way it has also become a much more cosmopolitan production than my previous work, with a cast from Poland, France and the UK and an Argentinian DoP. It's an exciting prospect to take all these elements and produce a piece of work that stays true to the philosophy and method of working that I have developed in all my previous films.'

THE LOWDOWN: Meadows is reunited with his This Is England star Thomas Turgoose for a slight but charming tale in which Turgoose plays a teenager drawn to London and reliant on the kindness of strangers to survive. Shot largely in black and white, the films charts his friendship with the son of a Polish worker, played by Piotr Jagiello.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Meadows won the Korda award for This Is England and was also nominated for his screenplay. His Bafta record also includes Korda nominations for TwentyFourSeven in 1997 and Dead Man's Shoes in 2004. Somers Town feels too modest a piece to make an impact against the competition and Bafta voters may feel it is too soon to honour Meadows again, especially as the film was fully financed by Anglo-French rail company Eurostar.

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Slumdog Millionaire


Celador Films, Pathe, Film4


DANNY BOYLE SAYS: 'We started off using classical kinds of film cameras and I didn't like it. I wanted to feel really involved in the city. I didn't want to be looking at it, examining it. I wanted to be thrown right into the chaos as much as possible. There's a period of time between about 2am and 4am where it all stops and just the dogs move around, but other than that, the place is just a tide of humanity.'

THE LOWDOWN: Boyle dives into the chaos and poverty of India with a dynamic tale of a Mumbai slum orphan turned potential millionaire. UK actor Dev Patel gives a charismatic performance as a teenager who is one question away from scooping the jackpot on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' The reason behind his knowledge of the answers becomes a means of revisiting his life in a story that displays all the richness of a Dickens novel.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES' Boyle won the Korda award with Shallow Grave in 1994 and was nominated again for Trainspotting in 1996. Since winning the audience prize at Toronto, Slumdog Millionaire has been gathering momentum as a widely admired, crowd-pleasing entertainment that combines dazzling craft with strong commercial potential. It is a dog that should have its day.

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